Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/13372
One of the challenges of investigating social groups is to conjugate the necessity to define the object of study with the need to report its complexity. I will discuss this issue by describing the internal variety of the Romani world from the viewpoint of the Roma involved in my doctoral research: Bosnian xoraxané (Muslim) romá living in Rome (Italy).
My aim is to show the distance between the ways in which the romá and the non-Roma conceive and handle Romani identity. Indeed, they both appeal to categories such as nationality, ethnicity, or religion, in order to define who the Roma (and in the specific case, the romá) are. Yet, the romá make use of contextual, mismatching and fuzzy categories; the non-Roma (authorities, but also social scientists and citizens in general) instead, make use of rigid, discrete and internally homogenous categories.
The definition of the object of study in social sciences is a delicate operation; to inscribe the people we are studying within clear and already-made boxes (like those provided by bureaucracies and other systems of classification) carries the risk of losing grip on the reality under analysis, and ending up resembling the nationalist and racist ideologies social sciences aim to deconstruct.
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